Borussia Dortmund passed their first real test of the new season on Bundesliga Matchday 4 as they claimed a comfortable win over a strong Leverkusen side and – equally importantly – looked solid defensively. An important week with top clashes against Bayer, Barca and Frankfurt has started on the right note.
German football magazine kicker recently wrote that Mats Hummels and Manuel Akanji could become the best centre-back partnership in the league. The pair were certainly an insurmountable force against Leverkusen with the in-form Hummels winning 10 of his 12 challenges, while Akanji recorded a 100 percent tackle win rate – though he was only involved in four direct challenges. In any case, the performance of the centre-back pairing and their team-mates ensured that their visitors, who dominated possession (63 percent), never got into dangerous positions. B04 might have had more of the shots (12-9), but only one of those attempts required intervention from Roman Bürki.
Leverkusen were dealt with well tactically and forced out wide, thanks largely to Thomas Delaney at the heart of the midfield. Michael Zorc singled him out for "special praise" and added with a wink: "Put in exaggerated terms, he was involved in 200 challenges and won 210 of them."
"I had a super feeling," said the omnipresent Denmark international, who covered the most ground of all the 28 players on the pitch (12.24 kilometres), before adding: "Leverkusen had a bit more of the ball than us. But we defended with complete control and attacked with complete control." Dortmund might have only had eight shots at Lukas Hradecky's goal, but seven of them were on target: four found the back of the net and three were superbly kept out by the Leverkusen shot-stopper, who denied Reus and Brandt before the break and Hakimi after it.
"It was a highly deserved victory and, following our defeat against Union Berlin, an important one," said Jadon Sancho. "I'm very happy to be playing here." The wing wizard's tally in the Bundesliga now stands at 15 goals and 26 assists. "The result gives the team stability. We can build on that," said Zorc. For the first time this season, the Black & Yellows managed to keep a clean sheet. "That was something we discussed at half-time," revealed Delaney. "It's important to keep a clean sheet. Ultimately, we win 99 percent of our home games when we keep a clean sheet."
On Tuesday, FC Barcelona come to town. But there was no mention of that at BVB until Saturday evening. "We were entirely focused on the match against Leverkusen," assured Lucien Favre. Now, though, preparations will begin for that titanic Champions League clash.